The government’s confidence in the Northern Powerhouse and its strategy, goals and ambitions have been clearly set out. In the government report – The Northern Powerhouse: One Agenda, One Economy, One North, it was stated
“The North has many centres of excellence increasingly recognised on the global stage, including the city regions of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull, as well as Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire, North Yorkshire and the Tees Valley. These places have seized the opportunity to promote their strengths and drive up productivity with growth strategies that align skills, local transport and economic renewal. Alongside investment in skills, support for business and regeneration of our city centres, a transformation in connections between the great cities of the North and beyond will enable them to increase their productivity to meet the levels currently only seen in London and the South East”
But just how effective has the Northern Powerhouse really been? We consider some key factors.
Unreliable transport across the country has made some Northern cities seem inaccessible to those living in London. Commuters up and down the country are used to the current transport system being truly unfit for purpose, with journeys taking far longer than they should. Transport in the North is aiming to tackle the issue by transforming the rail system, improving roads and providing easier better links between the cities and to the south.
Increased connectivity between cities in the North is one of the most valued things that the Northern Powerhouse initiative can bring. Connecting the key Northern cities is invaluable for businesses, commuters and even tourists and the proposed HS2 railway should be instrumental in this. The HS2 project is incredibly ambitious and when it is completed in 2033 it will be one of the biggest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK. Modern rail infrastructure will help to create fast and frequent connections between the North’s key cities and Manchester Airport too, providing better links for international visitors to the region.
The effectiveness of the Northern Powerhouse can also be seen in the rise in house prices in the region, which continue to be a great indicator of a regions growth. Over the past year, a number of Northern Powerhouse cities have seen significant rises in house prices. Leeds is experiencing positive capital appreciation in its property prices, with a 4.3% rise over the last 12 months. Liverpool had a huge price rise of 6.9%, Sheffield of 5.8% and Manchester of 6.2%, compared to London which is currently at -0.4%. Northern Powerhouse property is increasingly in demand from investors with firms like RW Invest providing lucrative opportunities in areas with high capital growth.
Regeneration has been another key test of just how effective the Northern Powerhouse can be, and though these huge projects can often be decades in the making, their impact can already be felt across the region. Designated regeneration zones have been a big part of the Northern Powerhouse strategy and targeted investment has aimed to make forgotten areas vibrant places to live and work. By looking at Northern Powerhouse projects, it becomes clear that the strategy has had an impact on the cities involved. MediaCityUK in Salford is a great example of the impact that this kind of investment can make, with properties in that area rising rapidly in value. The Leeds Southbank project which aims to double the size of the city shows how ambitious and forward thinking Northern Powerhouse cities have become. The Baltic Triangle in Liverpool is another lesson in how innovative businesses and forward-thinking decisions can allow an area to flourish and thrive.